Setting up a Wood Recycling Social Enterprise:
Personal Checklist

Community wood recycling is a highly rewarding and fulfilling activity, but setting up and running any venture is hard work and can be very stressful, so should not be entered into lightly. The following list of (hopefully) thought-provoking questions will help those interested to properly consider all the personal implications of such a move.

Please print out this form and go through the questions, with reference to the guidance below if you need it.

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1. Are you prepared for very long hours and the stress/responsibility that comes with running a venture?

Running your own business is exciting, but it takes a lot of work, and can involve stresses far beyond what you might expect if in “regular” employment. Make sure you’ve seriously considered the effect that committing to starting an enterprise could have on your life (and on those around you), and are up to the challenge.

2. Is/are your partner/family/friends supportive of what you want to do?

You’re not the only one who will be affected by a decision to commit to running an enterprise. Consider how others’ lives will be affected too – especially partners, children, and other dependants.

3. Are you prepared to make the financial sacrifices necessary to run such a venture?

We don’t do this job for the money. Consider the potential impact on your financial situation, and bear in mind that although the odds are in your favour, running a business is a gamble and you might not have the security you might get from working for someone else.

4. Have you worked out what your minimum income needs are, and are they achievable?

Running an enterprise is a full-time job, so you’ll need to be able to support yourself financially until you can pay yourself a living wage – which might take a while!

5. Are you prepared to work some evenings and weekends if necessary?

As the owner of the enterprise it will fall to you to go the extra mile to make things work, however much time is required.

6. Are you physically fit and capable of lots of manual labour?

Initially you will be doing a large proportion (if not all) of the collection work yourself. You will doubtless be doing the loading and this kind of work is physically demanding.

7. Are you up for managing staff and volunteers – some of whom might have certain “baggage”?

The CWR model relies on taking on volunteers, both to meet our social goals and to make the business work financially. These could be recovering drug users, ex-offenders, or those with mild mental health issues or learning difficulties. You will need to be prepared to meet the challenges that working with vulnerable people might present.

8. Could you provide good leadership to a group of disparate individuals?

As stated above, CWR attracts many kinds of people – some of whom will be “vulnerable” and need a higher level of support. Can you show good, disciplined leadership whilst recognising the needs of each individual and find a way to get the best out of them?

9. Could you/learn to prepare and manage a budget?

A firm grasp of income versus expenditure is essential for any business! It will be your responsibility to manage the finances and keep track of the figures. Proper financial management is a legal responsibility.

10. Are you a self-starter?

You’ll need to be highly motivated and not get deterred by the hard work. You’ll not have a boss telling you what to do so you’ll need to have bags of self-motivation.

11. Are you a quitter or a sticker?

Deciding to run a business is a big commitment, and people will be depending on you. There will be times when the responsibilities seem overwhelming, but being an entrepreneur means rising to that challenge and sticking it out in difficult circumstances.

12. Are you a good listener?

Good leadership in CWR demands a compassionate ear and giving plenty of attention to your colleagues (and your customers). You have to be prepared to listen carefully to others and respect others’ opinions.

13. Can you think on your feet?

Planning is important, but sometimes the unexpected will occur and you have to be able to improvise.

If you’re not sure about any of the above, don’t be put off! We can talk you through the details and make sure you’re well-informed about every aspect of the job before you commit to anything. The important thing is to have a realistic understanding of the challenges involved. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss any of the points raised, or if you have any other points of concern we haven’t mentioned here.

Next: Step-by-step setup process